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April 30, 2007

Microsoft shares Web goodies at MIX07

Posted by David Hunter at 9:53 PM ET.

As had been anticipated, Microsoft’s MIX07 conference brought an announcement of a variety of Web technology goodies that Microsoft is itching to get Web developers to use:

Microsoft Silverlight 1.0 beta availability. Optimized for the Web, Microsoft Silverlight enables developers and designers to easily use existing skills and Visual Studio and Expression Studio tools to deliver media experiences and rich interactive applications. Silverlight works with any back-end Web platform or technology, seamlessly integrating with existing infrastructure and applications, including Apache and PHP, as well as JavaScript and XHTML on the client. Beta 1.0 includes a go-live license, which means customers can deploy their Silverlight applications in production. Final availability of Microsoft Silverlight 1.0 is scheduled for summer 2007.

Microsoft Silverlight 1.1 Alpha availability. Based on the .NET Framework, Silverlight 1.1 Alpha offers broader tools and language support. It enables developers to take advantage of support for powerful .NET features including ASP.NET AJAX and Language-Integrated Query (LINQ) language, with full IntelliSense editing enabled for client and server code; powerful cross-platform debugging capabilities; and rich language support for JavaScript, Visual Basic, C#, Python and Ruby.

Expression Studio now shipping. Expression Studio, Microsoft’s end-to-end tools for creative designers, boosts collaboration with developers in the delivery of next-generation user experiences for Windows, the Web and beyond.

Microsoft Silverlight Streaming. Silverlight Streaming is a new companion service for Silverlight that makes it easier for developers and designers to deliver and scale rich media as part of their Silverlight applications.

Windows Live Platform Terms of Use. Microsoft is enabling the developer community to take advantage of the Windows Live™ services infrastructure and gain access to all the APIs through a simple, consistent set of terms that address multiyear supportability, scale, cost structure and commercial use of the platform. In addition, Microsoft announced new APIs to support programmatic access to Windows Live Spaces, Windows Live Contacts and Windows Live Messenger.

That just scratches the surface though and does not mention one of the more interesting aspects of Silverlight Streaming:

Microsoft Silverlight Streaming is a companion service for Silverlight that enables designers, developers, and content owners to deliver cross-browser, cross-platform media experiences and RIAs on the Web. All people have to do is upload Silverlight applications, including videos, photos, etc., to the Silverlight Streaming service, which then stores it on Microsoft servers, replicates it across our global delivery network and manages the delivery to Web sites. There are a number of different scenarios for this, including a basic package that features video hosting and distribution at no charge, DVD quality video streaming, and simple tools and APIs that make it easy to integrate media and share it anywhere on the Web. This ranges all the way up to a premium package that includes more professional tools and APIs, and integrated rights management and reporting.

I believe Microsoft just offered free video hosting to all takers as long as they use Silverlight. While that should certainly should be an incentive to adoption, one wonders how long it can last. On the other hand, maybe it’s the successor to the unlimited Web mail inbox and photo sharing sites.

Update: Also see Ryan Stewart’s discussion of the less than obvious aspects of the Silverlight announcement including the fact that it provides a cross platform .NET framework including the CLR (Common Language Runtime).

Filed under Beta and CTP, Expression Studio, General Business, Marketing, Microsoft, Online Services, Silverlight, Technologies, Tools, Windows Live, Windows Live Contacts, Windows Live Messenger

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Supreme Court favors Microsoft in foreign patent fight with AT&T

Posted by David Hunter at 9:35 PM ET.

More tech companies than just Microsoft are breathing a sigh of relief after Microsoft’s last ditch appeal to the US Supreme Court prevailed and limited liability for infringement of a domestic software patent abroad. IDG News Service’s Jeremy Kirk explains:

The U.S. Supreme Court ruled on Monday that Microsoft is not liable for using patented AT&T technology in copies of Windows running on computers outside the United States.

The 7-to-1 ruling relieves the software giant from paying what could have been enormous damages and changes how the software industry looks at patent rights.

Microsoft has previously admitted to violating an AT&T patent for converting speech to computer code, which it incorporated into tens of millions of copies of its Windows OS. It settled with AT&T in the United States, but disputed that Windows software running on machines located overseas were covered by the patent.

In delivering the court’s opinion, Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg wrote that the “master disk” or “electronic transmission” Microsoft gives to foreign manufacturers does not violate the patent on its own since that specific copy is not used on foreign-made computers.

The Supreme Court was the last stop for Microsoft, which had lost a previous court battle. In July 2005, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit upheld a lower-court ruling that Microsoft was liable to pay fines for foreign sales of patent-infringing software even if it was originally created in the United States.

But Microsoft had gained broad support in its defense efforts, including the Bush administration and tech giants, Intel, and Yahoo, and industry groups such as the Business Software Alliance and the American Intellectual Property Law Association.

Frankly, this seems like putting a Band-Aid on patent laws that are clearly inadequate for modern software (and other) technology, but that’s an all too common story.

Update 5/1: As for what it means to Microsoft:

Brad Smith tells the Wall Street Journal’s Jess Bravin today (click here) that the ruling will lop off about 60% of its exposure in the 45 patent cases pending against it today.

Filed under AT&T, Amazon, Coopetition, Hardware, Intel, Microsoft, Patent Lawsuits, Patents, Yahoo

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April 27, 2007

Microsoft Weekly Miscellany, April 27, 2007

Posted by David Hunter at 8:12 PM ET.

Some Microsoft news items from this week that did not find posts of their own:

State by state, Microsoft responds to creeping threat of OpenDocument Format:

Ed Homan, an orthopedic surgeon representing a central Florida district in the state legislature, thought an amendment touting open-source document formats he tucked into a 38-page bill wouldn’t draw much attention.

But within an hour of the proposed bill’s reading in late March, Homan said, he was greeted in his office by three lobbyists representing Microsoft Corp.

“They were here lickety-split,” Homan said. “I had no idea it was going to get that kind of reaction.”

Office 2003 SP3 will be a security upgrade featuring technologies from Office 2007. No date.

System Center Virtual Machine Manager Beta 2 released.

China Telecom gives Google Web advertising rights. Microsoft had earlier done a search deal with China Telecom, but doesn’t seem to be in any position to provide Chinese ads, since they have farmed their own out to Baidu.

No demand for Microsoft Office in the cloud according to Microsoft execs. No surprise there.

Executive departures:

Microsoft angst fodder:

Legal shenanigans:

Finally one from last week – Microsoft and Samsung signed a broad patent cross-licensing agreement.

Filed under Baidu, Beta and CTP, Coopetition, Cross Licensing, Employee Retention, Executives, General Business, Google, Governmental Relations, Marketing, Microsoft, ODF, OOXML, OS - Client, Office, Office 2003, Office 2007, Patent Lawsuits, Patents, Public Relations, Samsung, Satya Nadella, Servers, Standards, Virtual Machine Manager, Windows Vista

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Preview of Microsoft announcements at MIX07

Posted by David Hunter at 7:40 PM ET.

CNET’s Martin Lamonica has some buzz about what Microsoft will be announcing next week at their MIX07 conference:

Microsoft next week at its Mix07 conference plans to detail more generous business terms for partners to use its Live online services and to open up new application programming interfaces for Windows Live Spaces.

The company will allow outside developers–which can be at commercial enterprises–to build mash-up applications that generate up to one million unique user visits at their sites per month for free. Beyond that, Microsoft will charge 25 cents per user per year or look to establish a business relationship where it can deliver online ads to those sites, company executives said.

In addition, Microsoft will provide APIs to photos or contact information for its Windows Live Spaces users if they give permission. Windows Live Spaces is Microsoft’s social networking site where people can post blogs, share photos and other information.

The goal is to drive traffic to Microsoft’s Web properties and entice Web businesses to use Microsoft products and services, executives said.

In the face of all this leaking, the folks at Microsoft’s Windows Live Dev News blog are gritting their teeth and suggesting that will have all the details on Monday.

Meanwhile, InfoWorld’s Elizabeth Montalbano reports that sources say that Microsoft will also be announcing that portions of Microsoft’s Silverlight “Flash killer” will be open sourced in order to better compete with Adobe. Microsoft had already promised that a Silverlight beta would be released at MIX07.

Filed under Conferences, MIX07, Microsoft, Silverlight, Technologies, Windows Live, Windows Live Spaces

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